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  1. “That’s because, while people are afraid of change that affects their lives, they welcome change that doesn’t.”

    Haha, nice.

    Comment by RéRé — October 13, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  2. The “average fan” can’t name anyone on the Orioles or A’s. They want to watch the best teams play, or at least the teams with the biggest names or best pedigree. That’s what television ratings have consistently told us. In both cases, this happens to be the Yankees and Tigers.

    Comment by cwendt — October 13, 2012 @ 10:57 am

  3. In other words: I accept your analysis (though worth noting just how bad these two teams are defensively), but reject your premise.

    Comment by cwendt — October 13, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  4. No contradiction. There’s a difference between “like” and “will watch.” People will watch the Yankees, even if they hate them.

    Comment by baycommuter — October 13, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  5. This is going to be a very good series. Two very good teams, many of MLB’s best most marketable players, a few future HOFs and should be very high television ratings.

    Comment by Tim — October 13, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  6. On what planet were the A’s the underdog against the Tigers? Doesn’t the season matter?

    The underdog won one of the ALDS. The narrative that the “moneyball” team is always the underdog is just silly.

    Comment by Jason H — October 13, 2012 @ 11:57 am

  7. I don’t think it is fair to say that ARod has slumped longer than Granderson. Granderson has a sub .270 OBP going back to late July.

    ARod was never benched or pinch-hit for in the final weeks of the season when every game was crucial for the Yankees. ARod started Game 1 against Hammel batting third. ARod was pinch-hit against a RHP in game 3. ARod was on the bench against Hammel in Game 5.

    It seems clear that this is Girardi using two or three games of data to change his mind about ARod. There was never an indication prior to the pinch-hit in game 3 that the Yankees were worried about ARod vs RHP.

    Comment by Koko B. Ware — October 13, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  8. The small sample is justified. Arod is currently in a bad place. There never should have been a fifth game. Arod came up with second and third and less than two outs in the bottom of the eighth. He had no chance of putting the ball in play. He was feet away from the ball and struck out on 3 or 4 pitches. That is not Arod. Arod, in any normal situation, does not have trouble just making contact.

    Comment by Jason H — October 13, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  9. Why is it that in both leagues, the team with the overall best record wasn’t guaranteed to have the extra off-day in case of an the series going 5? It seems like that is a distinct advantage, considering Verlander now gets the standard 4-days rest, while CC will be going on 3-days (probably not much of a factor, but still a factor).

    I’d rather the best team get a 3-day break at season end before their series, with a guaranteed rest day after the Division Series, than a 4-day break before their series with no guaranteed rest day.

    Just my 2-cents.

    Comment by Persona non grata — October 13, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

  10. you want a longer break? tell your team to wrap up their series faster then.

    Comment by Cidron — October 13, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

  11. In a planet in which Justin Verlander is starting 40% of the games in the series, they are an underdog. Just a fact.

    Comment by James — October 13, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

  12. The argument that A-Rod is slumping I think is pretty sound. I also think that Granderson has obviously been slumping since the All-Star Break. 34% K rate in July, 28% in August, and 32% in Sept/Oct. Though, he has hit 20 home runs during that stretch too. It adds up to a wRC+ around 100, which is certainly less than what you would expect from Granderson. And given the really high strikeout rates, I wouldn’t like his chances against the Tiger starters.

    Comment by Zach — October 13, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  13. …But both series went to 5 games. It’s not like Verlander and the Tigers wrapped things up faster than the Yankees did.

    You’d have a valid complaint if the Tigers finished in 4 and the Yanks in 5. But they both took 5 games.

    Comment by Mark — October 13, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  14. By that logic, the Tigers are the favorites against every team. …the worst team in the playoffs are considered the favorites simply because of one starting pitcher? If Verlander had lost game one (and the Tigers lost lots of games that Verlander started during the season) would the A’s then have become overwhelming favorites?!

    Comment by Jason H — October 13, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  15. He’s saying the Tigers have better players than the A’s, which happens to be a very obvious fact that you have not grasped.

    Comment by BenH — October 13, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  16. From a Tiger perspective, the key to this series is the Tiger starters staying in the game through seven innings or longer. The Yankees are masters at working the count and running up pitch counts. First pitch strikes, and inducing ground balls are keys to success for Detroit. The Tigers led the league in rotation FIP all season, but their infield defense dragged the ERA down to third in the league. That defense is better with Infante, but still weak overall.

    The Tigers have some good pitchers in the bullpen, and they’re all effective much more often than not, but we just witnessed one meltdown each from Benoit and Valverde in the ALDS. Jim Leyland needs to drop his obsession for lefty on lefty match ups, because Phil Coke is an accident waiting to happen, and there’s no place like New York for accidents against lefty hitters. Stick with the effective starters, forget about pitch counts and left handed match ups, and the Tigers should be fine.

    On the offensive end of things, the Tigers have a number of hackers that can be retired by any thinking pitcher. There’s no reason to throw strikes to Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta, unless you need a double play ball. Avila runs into one twice a month, and Leyland will bat Berry second so that he can give away outs by bunting a runner over in the first inning. Getting the first two guys on base ahead of Cabrera and Fielder is key. Andy Dirks is the underrated Tiger in the lineup. The boy can hit RHP’s, and he will.

    Comment by tigerdog — October 13, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  17. The reason why the A’s were the underdogs was because they had no established players. While, yes, they scraped by a miraculous season, it seemed very out of place/surprising. Meanwhile, the Tigers featured names like Verlander, Cabrera, and Fielder. I believe the main reason why the Tigers were more highly thought of is because the vast majority of baseball fans don’t credit defense enough, and what little credit they do give, they tend to lend to errors, a highly flawed stat. I just checked team UZRs, and found out that the A’s posted an over-average 24.3 UZR, while the Tigers poor defense, with Cabrera at third and the misnamed Prince Fielder at first, posted a poor -28.1 UZR. The Tigers bad record was due to a poor bullpen and bad defense, but all people see is rotation and hitting. This made the A’s seem much more of the underdogs.

    Comment by simo — October 13, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  18. They gave the extra day off up front to the wild card team, because they had to play a game the previous day while the division winners had time off to see how that wild card showdown turned out.

    It’s enough to have the home field advantage, IMO, and the Tigers had to take a red eye into New York last night for today’s game. Both teams have to turn around and play again the next day, but that’s not unusual in baseball. Blame the TV network scheduling.

    Comment by tigerdog — October 13, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  19. “By that logic, the Tigers are the favorites against every team. …the worst team in the playoffs are considered the favorites simply because of one starting pitcher?”

    This actually isn’t too far fetched. Starting pitching dominates in the playoffs more often than not. And when you’ve got the best pitcher in the game, who just came off an insane two games, that counts for something.

    And just like Oakland, NY strikes out more than average this year, especially as the season went on. What do Tiger pitchers like to do? Strike people out.

    The Tigers are built for these kind of scenarios where good pitching faces good hitting. That doesn’t make them a shoe in, but they have real advantages over NY.

    And besides, this wasn’t last year. The Tigers DID lose quite a few games Verlander started. Many of them weren’t his fault. That doesn’t change the fact he is a downright terrifying pitcher to face.

    Comment by Kevin — October 13, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  20. How often do you think we will see Albuquerque? He has dominant reliever status in the future, but he’s done quite well since he came back. More emphasis on him this series please!

    Comment by Kevin — October 13, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  21. If anyone should have to deal with playing on no rest it should be the WC team, not the top seed. I’d rather have seen the Yanks-O’s series start first and the A’s-Tigers start 2nd. The top seed should get all the scheduling breaks.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — October 13, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  22. Even if the Tiger starters make it through 7, they pen can still lose the game. As Jeff points out, Valverde will always pitch the 9th with a lead, and unless the lead is huge, he’s vulnerable. Benoit will always pitch the 8th with a lead, and he’s not what he was with TB. Yankees have Chavez, Granderson, Ibanez, Teixeira, Cano and Swisher as lefty hitters. A Yankee win or two against this duo wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — October 13, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

  23. Persona non grata: I totally agree. It’s a disadvantage to the top-qualifying teams that earned the right to play the wild card winners.

    Comment by Jon L. — October 13, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  24. “best of the Tigers is better than the best of the Yankees, the worst of the Yankees is better than the worst of the Tigers”

    This may have been true when Boesch and Raburn were playing, but is it still true?

    Cabrera vs Cano
    Jackson vs Granderson
    Fielder vs Teixeira
    Peralta vs Jeter

    I’d call that pretty even for the best players on each side, unless Teixeira is still injured and Granderson is really as bad as he’s been in the 2nd half.

    Avila vs Martin
    Swisher vs Dirks
    Ichiro vs Berry

    I’m not sure that’s all that much in the Yankee’s favor. One would think A-Rod, Chavez and Ibanez would be better than Young and Infante, so the Yankees would seem to have a clear edge in lineup and bullpen.

    As you say, the Tiger and Yankee rotations are also pretty much even unless Phelps has to pitch in Game 2 in place of Kuroda. I think the Yankees are a slighly better team that may have to deal with a scheduling disadvantage because they finished with the best record. Not really fair.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — October 13, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  25. i love it when you get all nerdy with us, jeff

    Comment by jim — October 13, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  26. The A’s were 2012 underdogs, is what I was getting at. Even though they wound up as a legitimately strong team, they were a surprise that was easy to root for.

    Comment by Jeff Sullivan — October 13, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

  27. I meant that Rodriguez has been slumping for longer than just the ALDS, not that he’s been slumping for longer than Granderson. That part was poorly written, so, my bad.

    Comment by Jeff Sullivan — October 13, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  28. How can you say the series will go between 4 and 7 games? I say Tigers in 9!

    Comment by ausmax — October 13, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  29. “…so we’ll see a lot of the other pitchers. Detroit’s [starters] are good. New York’s are not bad. They’re almost just as good.”

    Don’t think so. Significant edge to the Tigers’ I’d say. Bullpen’s another story however.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — October 13, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  30. There was an article hereabouts that amongst other bits lamented that the Yankees outspent the Orioles’ by an amount equal to the St. Louis Cardinals’ payroll, but there was made no mention of the fact that the Tigers outspent the Athletics by the price of the Baltimore Orioles roster, or that the Cardinals outspent the Nationals by one team full of Oakland Athletics. The closest series in financial terms was CIN-SF, and the Giants still had a cushion of a Yankee-and-a-half over their opponents.

    (Figures based on Opening Day estimates; personnel changes have not had significant impact, per review of numbers found on Cot’s.)

    So let us say: As it should be! Who wants to see upstart teams and exciting young players when we can have the same half-dozen traditional organizations playing each other every year? Let us emulate yonder European Footsoccer leagues, wherein the bulk of franchises are so much ornamentation to gild the duels of the nobility! Piffle, your competition; pox on your starved dreams: pale indeed beside the ruddy face upon my currency! A cheer for marketing, a toast to Normal!

    (A bit Notgraphsy, I know, but the opening was there to fire upon.)

    Comment by AC of DC — October 13, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  31. The season matters but matchups matter even more. And simply put the Tigers matchuped very favorably to Oakland. Every single game the Tigers had the better starting pitcher, the Tigers had the better 1B, better 3B, better CF, better 2B and probably better C too. I’d give the bullpen, defense and corner OF to Oakland but other than that I think the Tigers had the advantage everywhere and that’s why they were the favorites.

    Comment by Dwight S. — October 13, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  32. But you have no way of knowing which team will win each WC and LDS series, and the scheduling happens well in advance. So there’s no way to do it. I agree with the principle though.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — October 13, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

  33. The argument isn’t ARod isn’t slumping it’s “Granderson has slumped worse.” WHich if you go by the stats which everyone should on FanGraphs is the truth. Yes ARod sucks and people love spewing it out forever but that’s not the point being made.

    Comment by GGRS — October 13, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  34. Leyland will stick with Benoit in the 8th and Valverde in the ninth. He could use any combination of Dotel, Coke, and Al Al in the sixth and seventh. The more we see those guys, the better the Yankees are doing at working the count against Tiger starters.

    When you get into middle relief, Leyland gets obsessed with LH and RH match ups. He needs to stick with his starters as long as they’re effective and forget about match ups and pitch counts. This is a solid rotation all the way through.

    Benoit has been homer prone, giving up 14 HR starting in July, and Valverde has been up and down, but mostly escapes with a save. The BS in Oakland was only his second since July 14, but he’s always living dangerously.

    Comment by tigerdog — October 13, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  35. The Yankee-and-a-half spent the entire 2012 season sitting on his couch, following his release from the Marlins.

    Comment by WAR Invitational — October 13, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

  36. Fielder is much better than Teixeira. Cabrera is better than Cano. Jackson is better than Granderson.

    Jeter is way better than Peralta though. And Ichiro is better than Berry.

    Avila and Martin is a wash, although Martin’s been a different player in the second half. I don’t know much about Dirks, but his BABIP seems a bit high and he doesn’t walk or have much power, so I’d give the advantage to Swisher just on track record.

    Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 13, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  37. I’m looking forward to watching all the ex-Mariners play in this series because, as a Mariners fan, it’s the only thing I have to root for.

    I’m not looking forward to watching all the botched defensive plays (or, more likely, non-plays). These games promise to feature a lot of dingers, but boy oh boy they are probably going to be ugly.

    Comment by Westside guy — October 13, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

  38. The Tigers have made the playoffs three times in the last 24 years. In that same time frame, the ‘As have made the playoffs 10 times with a World Series title.

    Anyway you cut it, the Tigers are one of the teams that isn’t there very often, and the A’s (they of the third most WS titles of any franchise) are one of the ‘half-dozen traditional organizations’ who are there all the time.

    Comment by Tony — October 13, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  39. I think this article was supposed to be titled “Yankees, Tigers make the American League boring again.”

    Really, aside from all of the non-Yankee fans who want the Yankees to lose, does anyone care about the ALCS aside from Yankee and Tiger fans?

    Same goes for the NLCS. Oh, the Cardinals? Again…? Boring…

    Comment by blb — October 13, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  40. If you’re someone who likes to watch the very best athletes competing on a huge stage, then you’ll like the Yankees-Tigers series. I think that would apply to most baseball fans.
    Something mentioned during the broadcast was the number of potential HOFers in this series:
    Jeter, A-Rod, Pettite, Sabathia, Ichiro, Cano, Teixeira
    Cabrera, Verlander, Fielder, Leyland
    That’s a lot.

    Comment by Ian — October 13, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

  41. The A’s caught lightning in a bottle. On June 30th they were 13 games back with a 37-42 record. They had 5 rookies that had over 200PA, they had 5 rookies that started 97 of their 162 games. They had another 5 rookies with more than 30 appearances out of the bullpen.

    Of course they were underdogs. It doesn’t take anything away from what they accomplished, it just reflects the reality of the talent levels of the teams.

    Of course the A’s racked up more WAR than the Tigers 23.7 – 21.1 while the Angels led the majors at 37.4, for what that is worth.

    Comment by kazinski — October 13, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

  42. surely you’re not referring to the 2012 ALDS?

    Comment by jim — October 14, 2012 @ 1:22 am

  43. I was going to laugh at you and point out that no one would tune in to see vaunted-future-HOFer Jim Leyland in action.

    But then I remembered the 8000 tight-in close-ups of his face TBS treated us to tonight, with his little hoodie drawstrings all tied up in a little knot, looking like he was dying for a smoke. So maybe you’re on to something.

    Comment by JM — October 14, 2012 @ 2:43 am

  44. I do enjoy watching A-Rod strike out in grand fashion when the game is on the line, so I guess you may be right.

    Comment by blb — October 14, 2012 @ 3:45 am

  45. I agree that prior to season the A’s were huge underdogs. For the ALDS I have a hard time seeing a team that performed much better over 162 games, despite playing a much tougher schedule as underdogs.

    Comment by Jason H — October 14, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  46. Kevin,

    “The Tigers DID lose quite a few games Verlander started. Many of them weren’t his fault.”

    Exactly. Starting pitching is critically important, but the rest of the team matters too, as does the competition. This, of course, remains true in the playoffs. The Tigers are not guaranteed to win games Verlander starts. They likely almost always have better than 50% chance, when he starts, but they can still lose lots of those games. In fact, if Verlander starts two games and the Tigers’ chance of winning each of those starts is 70%, the probability that the Tigers lose at least one of those starts is 42% (calculated using the binomial). This is why teams with lock down starters do lose playoff series regularly.

    “That doesn’t change the fact he is a downright terrifying pitcher to face.”


    Comment by Jason H — October 14, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  47. BenH,

    While the Tigers, do have better players than the A’s at several positions (fantastically better, in the case of Verlander, Cabrera and Fielder), they also have much worse players at several positions. In aggregate, the A’s were clearly the better team this year.

    Comment by Jason H — October 14, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  48. Gotta have a bad guy

    Comment by Antonio bananas — October 14, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

  49. @JasonH

    To say the A’s were “clearly the better team” is perhaps a little bold. In 162 games, they won 6 more than the Tigers. But with the weakened Central and all, we can probably agree that the A’s played better this season.

    But as James and others stated, the Tigers have more to gain from the playoff format because their top 3 pitchers are better than most’s top three, and those top three could pitch six-sevenths of the series. Hypothetically if Detroit could have started Verlander, Scherzer and Fister in six of every seven starts, that would have given the Tigers a bigger advantage than the A’s getting to start Anderson, Colon and Parker that often.

    Comment by Matthias — October 15, 2012 @ 12:42 am

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